Category Archive : Generic

Fighting for Athens: the Battle of Marathon

Fighting for Athens: the Battle of Marathon

A tour to the historical Marathon battle area

A visit to the archaeological site, the Tymvos burial mound in an olive grove with a plaque that commemorates the great victory and the Marathon Museum and if the weather permits it, a swim at the sandy beach of Shinias where the Persian fleet landed, is one of the things you must do when you visit Athens.

Marathon is still one of Attica’s loveliest and well known spots. Everyone has heard the story of the Persian army defeat at Marathon at the hands of the Athenians. Imagine marching several thousand miles only to be wiped out 27 miles from the city you came to conquer by an army a fraction of your size. There is not much to see of the battlefield really. Main source of information about the battle in Marathon is the historian Herodotus. According to him, the Persian fleet landed 100,000 troops on Shinias in the year 490 B.C. Against this huge army the Athenians brought 10,000 soldiers and with the help of 1,000 Plataian soldiers, thanks to an ingenious strategic plan of the Greek army commander, Miltiades, they were victorious. They formed the Greek letter (Pi) with weak centre and strong sides, and when the battle started, the central section retreated and the sides closed in and squeezed the panicked Persian soldiers. Thousands of Persians were killed or drowned in the swamp nearby, (where the rowing venue of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games is), while the Athenians had 192 soldiers dead, all burried in the tymvos area. It is E.N.Gardiners’ observation that, ” the victory of the Greeks over the Persians…was the victory of a handful of trained athletes over the hordes of flabby barbarians.”

Legend wants an Athenian soldier named, Philippides, to run from the battlefield all the way into Athens in order to bring the good news. He ran all the way from Marathon to the Athenian Agora. He collapsed and died immediately after he delivered his one word message; Nenikikamen (We have won). In memory of this great victory, the Marathon run was performed in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and since then, it is the last event of the Olympic Games. Here is the starting point of the authentic distance. If you think that you are fit enough, you are free to try your physical condition on this classical Marathon run 42,195m.

Today’s amazing thing about Marathon is the marble dam, the only dam in the world made out of marble, that holds the water that supplies Athens.

 

HALF DAY TOUR TO MARATHON

Upon request, we organise half day tours (+/- 5 hrs) from Athens to Marathon driving along the Athenian North suburbs. At Marathon we visit the “tymvos” burial mound, the museum and end the tour at the sandy beach of Shinias for a swim.

 

Peloponnese map
Peloponnese map

Peloponnese map

The Peloponesse, Greece’s southern peninsula, is rich in history, and one of the most beautiful regions in the country. It hides amazing scenery, culture, historic sites and ancient ruins. The surounding sea waters are of the bluest blue. Its villages are pearl white jewels hidden in thick vegetation. Its landscapes are breathtaking. Many sites within easy reach of Athens you can visit on one-day excursions, such as: Ancient Corinth and the Corinth canal, Epidaurus, Nafplion & Mycenae, Ancient Sparta & Byzantine Mystras, Olympia, Kalavryta & the cave of the lakes. Some others, like Monemvasia, “the Diros” Caves, Mt. Taygetus and the Mani area, the Messinian castles, the Ilia region of Olympia are better visited in 2 & 3 day tours

Start with the ancient sites of Corinth, Epidaurus and Mycenae, all easily reached from Nafplion.

Further south, you can explore the medieval Byzantine city of Mystras near Sparta on the slopes of Mt Taygetos, with its winding paths and stairways leading to deserted palaces and fresco-adorned churches and the area of Mani, a region of bleak mountains and barren landscapes broken only by imposing stone towers, mostly abandoned but still standing sentinel over the region.

Other attractions in the Peloponesse include the beautiful medieval castle island of Monemvasia, the Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, and the thrilling Diakofto-Kalavryta, rack-and-pinion railway, which roller coasts its way through the deep Vouraikos river Gorge.

Cyclades Islands
Cyclades Islands

Cyclades Islands

The Cycladic islands epitomise the postcard image of the Greek islands: dazzling white buildings are offset by bright-blue church domes, while golden beaches meet an aquamarine sea.

Some of the Cyclades, such as Mykonos, Santorini, Paros and Ios, have vigorously embraced the tourist industry; others, such as Andros, Kea, Serifos and Sikinos, are visited infrequently by foreigners but are favourites with holiday-makers from Athens.

Mykonos is the most expensive and heavily visited of all Greek islands. It has the most sophisticated nightlife and is the undisputed gay capital of Greece.

Barren, low-lying Mykonos would never win a Greek-island beauty contest, but it does have superb beaches.

The town is a mixture of chic boutiques and houses with brightly painted balconies draped in bougainvillea and clematis.

Santorini is regarded as the most spectacular of the Greek islands. It’s a “unique” sight.

Thousands of tourists come every year to gape at the caldera, a vestige of what was probably the world’s largest volcanic eruption, ever.

Despite the crowds who visit in summer, Santorini’s weirdness, apparent in its black-sand beaches and mighty cliffs, holds a distinct allure.

And if you want to escape the tourist crowds, Sikinos, Anafi and the tiny islands to the east of Naxos offer some respite.

Map Dodecanese
Map Dodecanese

Map Dodecanese

Strung along the coast of western Turkey, the Dodecanese islands is much closer to Asia Minor than to mainland Greece.

Because of their strategic and vulnerable position, these islands have been subjected to an even greater catalogue of invasions and occupations than the rest of Greece – Egyptians, the Knights of St John, Turks and Italians have all done their bit as conquerors.

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands and its town is the largest inhabited medieval settlement in Europe.

The Avenue of the Knights is lined with magnificent medieval buildings, the most impressive of which is the Palace of the Grand Masters, restored, but never used, as a holiday home for Mussolini.

Map Greek Island of Crete
Map Greek Island of Crete

Map Greek Island of Crete

Greece’s largest island has the dubious distinction of playing host to a quarter of all visitors to Greece.

It’s still possible to find some peace by visiting the undeveloped west coast, the rugged mountainous interior and the villages of the Lassithi plateau.

Crete was the centre of the Minoan culture, Europe’s first advanced civilisation, which flourished from 2800 to 1450 BC.

The palace of Knossos, just outside Crete’s largest city, Heraklio, is the most magnificent of Crete’s Minoan sites.

While Heraklio is a modern, wealthy but somewhat charmless city, the other large towns, Chania and Rethymno, are packed with beautiful Venetian buildings.

Paleohora, on the southwest coast, was discovered by hippies in the 1960s and from then on its days as a quiet fishing village were numbered, but it remains a relaxing place favoured by backpackers.

Many travelers spend a day trekking though the 18km-long Samaria Gorge to get to Agia Roumeli on the southwest coast.

Further along the south coast, which is too precipitous to support large settlements, are the villages of Loutro and Hora Sfakion, linked by boat. The climate on the south coast is so mild that swimming is possible from April to November.

The Greek Alphabet
The Greek Alphabet

The Greek Alphabet

The Greek Alphabet

The word “Alphabet” comes from the two first letters of the Greek Alphabet: Alfa and Beta. Because many of the Greek letters are different from the Latin ones, this becomes something of a deterrent for those trying to learn the language, and just the expression “It’s all Greek to me” tells a lot about the attitude many people have towards Greek.

A lot of the Greek words are actually words we use in our own languages.
And yes, it IS a difficult language but it’s not THAT difficult that you can’t learn it. You can learn to make conversation with a little effort, and if you are able to read the letters, you’ll find that

Α, α = Alfa
Β, β = Vita
Γ, γ = Gamma
Δ, δ = Delta
Ε, ε = Epsilon
Ζ, ζ = Zita
Η, η = Ita
Θ, θ = Thita
Ι, ι = Yiota
Κ, κ = Kappa
Λ, λ = Lamda
Μ, μ = Mi
Ν, ν = Ni
Ξ, ξ = Xi (Ksi)
Ο, ο = Omikron
Π, π = Pi
Ρ, ρ = Ro
Σ, σ = Sigma
Τ, τ = Taff
Υ, υ = Ipsilon
Φ, φ = Fi
Χ, χ = XI
Ψ, ψ = Psi
Ω, ω = Omega